It’s amazing what you can do in 24 hours… and how you can shift your mindset!
After my first 2 weeks with Peter Van, my travelling campervan, I returned to London to finalise the Gr8fool decals, pack up properly for a longer road trip across the Channel and just in time for a very cool house party.
I couldn’t have picked a more breath-taking first destination than stunning Scotland. I quickly fell for vanlife but admittedly it wasn’t all easy-peasy. The bad weather made it particularly testing, but wow, did I manage it all fantastically or what!
Being back in my comfortable flat and my favourite rat-race city did cause some emotional wobbles.
I will fly back to London on occasions for seeing friends and special events, so being away from “home” isn’t an issue. I’ve reached a good social and me-time balance in my life and I’m confident that vanlife will offer great chances for me to feed both needs.
Taming my FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) helped me find that balance but the biggest challenge remains quieting the ego.
My ego can be a real b*tch (I know she can hear me!). She loves giving me a hard time, talking about wants, securities, plans, anxieties etc.
As I learn to follow my intuition more, be myself, feel free, follow my heart, face fears gently and manage doubts, ego butts in and questions it all. She wants answers I don’t care to find. I try ignore her and she gets louder…:
“…You’re 41, not 21! Is this what a woman of your age should be doing?
Can’t you find a loving partner to settle down with instead?
You can fit the whole campervan in your spare room, why down-grade?
You’ll miss out on all the good stuff while away! Sure you won’t feel lonely and go crazy…”
In moments like these, it’s important to listen to my intuition, who will always be more supportive and empowering towards the greater good.
I know this adventure will create moments and opportunities of a lifetime!
BREAKFAST IN LONDON
5 days in London were just enough to do everything I wanted to and get all set to go. Or almost...
The day I planned to cross the Channel I left home too late and as it got darker and darker, I spent a good hour on the roadside watching Youtube and working out how to secure my bicycle on the rack!
Oh, the fun!
And I met a few intrigued passers-by too.
So instead of driving to Folkstone that evening I turned up at a dear friend’s in South London. I was in no rush to leave other than for a fading hope to make it to an ADE (Amsterdam Dance Event) party the following night. A friend in Amsterdam recommended it but tickets were sold out.
I woke up nice and early to find a hot cup of coffee and croissant ready for me. Thank you Steve!
By 7am the next morning I was on the road so I could make my 9.45 Eurotunnel train. The idea was to drive towards The Netherlands still, once on the other side, and stop wherever felt right.
LUNCH IN BRUGES
I have a draft itinerary for my vanlife year, but the details are left to spontaneity and synchronicity. As I updated my family on our Whatsapp group, my sister mentioned that she always wanted to visit Bruges and so I took her suggestion and typed that into my Google map.
Bruges is beautiful and so romantic. I parked just outside the old town walls and hopped on my bicycle to reach the historic centre. I have years of cycling commute experience in London, yet cycling along myriads of confident locals was a little daunting at first.
Cycling is a fantastic way to feel at home even in places you never been to before, and to really get to know a new city. So freeing.
As I enjoyed my mussels lunch with a great view of the Place de Bruges, laughing at the idea of relaxing into my evening with the movie “Bruges” in Bruges, I decided (out of habit at this point) to refresh the ticketswap.com webpage that I’d been trying in vain to get the ADE ticket from, for days. I didn’t expect a ticket to suddenly pop up for purchase.
No way! It was 4.45pm, I still had my chocolate mousse to eat and 250km to drive.
Bruges on Netflix vs. dance rave in Amsterdam? Mmmh, I’ve seen Bruges before: ticket purchased!
DINNER AND DANCE IN AMSTERDAM
I arrived at the Forest campsite South of Amsterdam when it was already closed, but luckily I could pitch up Peter Van and sort out the check-in the next day. I love campsites trust etiquette. It was the same in Scotland and I’m hoping it will be the same everywhere else I go.
I settled in, made my dinner and my bed, showered and got ready for the big night out. I arranged to meet my friend in town and after a long wait for a taxi, due to the busy weekend, I joined the party crew at midnight.
We danced the night away to music by Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxle and more. The fun carried on at a after-house party and when I realised I had been awake for 24 hours, it was time to make my way back to my cosy bed.
What a fantastic first day in mainland Europe. After all the doubts cluttering my head earlier in the week, I am in total awe of the freedom vanlife can offer. How else could you have breakfast in London, lunch in Bruges and a night out in Amsterdam, all within the same 24hrs?!
After a day of rest I then enjoyed some time cycling through city parks and forests, and streets buzzing with marathonists, tourists and more. And I was also treated to a lovely dinner by an ex-colleague, with whom I worked for 15 years!
Forget JETsetting and try VANsetting !